The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Iraq conducted a Training of Trainers workshop in Erbil for 26 agricultural extension staff from Ninewa Agriculture Directorate under the EU-funded project entitled: “Livelihood Support for Returnee Farmers and Rural and Peri-Urban Communities in Ninewa Governorate, Iraq”. The training was aimed at MOA livestock extension officers to improve their knowledge on the introduction of cultivation fodder crops and better utilization of agri-industrial by-products (sugar molasses, date residues and feed blocks) to improve their livestock productivity.
The workshop adopted an interactive and participatory approach showing new management practices and modern techniques that would allow the trainees to train directly 4000 livestock breeders in the field on these techniques in order to implement them.
The workshop was held earlier this week in the presence of Dr. Salah Al-Hajj Hassan, FAO Representative in Iraq, and Dr. Rabie Youssef Elias, Director of Ninewa Agriculture, on his first official visit to attend this event.
Dr. Rabie, during his speech praised the important role played by the FAO through implementing work and field interventions on the ground. He praised the collaboration with the Directorate and the local administration in Ninewa. He was keen on the successful development of the livestock sector.
Dr. Kayouli, FAO International Livestock Value Chain Expert overseeing the training, pointed out that molasses is worldwide used as an energy source for livestock feeding systems. This is feed supplement, appetizer to improve intake of poor quality roughage. The molasses is locally produced by a functioning sugar refining factory in Babil Governorate with monthly production of 1,250 tons of sugar molasses. Dr Kayouli sees opportunities for the use of the molasses, which is currently being exported (95%), as farmers and extension staff are not aware of its importance for livestock feeding due to lack of training and knowledge.
Dr. Kayouli emphasized the importance of introducing modern technologies to make a paradigm shift (qualitative leap) to improve livestock productivity, which encourages local production to increase dairy and meat production while mitigating the impact of drought observed in Ninewa this year. He added that FAO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, will soon distribute sugar molasses to livestock breeders in Ninewa Governorate through purchasing 1,000 tons of molasses from local markets, which it is already planned to start distribution by next week to the 4000 livestock breeders including 40% women livestock producers involved with traditional home processing dairy products.
Dr Salah stated that the EU funding combined with the expertise provided by FAO and the MOA was in an excellent position to promote sustainable livestock feeding system in Ninewa. He mentioned that the project had also granted fodder seeds (ryegrass - jet - mixture of barley and alfalfa) to 750 farmers who cultivated a total of 2000 donum (500ha). He praised the project team for having successfully introduced nutritious green fodder to crops farmers and livestock breeders by showing the benefits in increased milk production and live weight of animals, as well as improved animal health.
It is noteworthy that the workshop dealt with many other topics such as presentation of the results related to summer fodder crops (Sudanese sorghum and Alfalfa). The workshop session was also dedicated to logistical preparation for inputs to the beneficiaries. A distribution ceremony is scheduled for June 30, 2021 to launch the distribution of sugar molasses and diary equipment in the presence of senior officials.